This year was my 7th trek to Atlanta for an experience that can be described as nothing less than remarkable. Every year, I’ve come home with indescribable inspiration and faith to see God do new and fresh things here in the delta. I’m thankful for my introduction to this experience with the very first conference for “next generation” leaders held at Andy Stanley’s North Point Church in Alpharetta, GA in 2000.
My dear friend Bruce McCarty, (then pastor of First Assembly of God) had invited me to ride with his pastoral staff to this cutting-edge conference. Friendships were deepened and faith in God’s ability to do the impossible grew. I missed the next few years due to limited conference budgets that were all spent on denominational meetings. Four years later I returned and was so impacted, I decided then I’d never miss it again. No conference anywhere, not even those of my own “tribe” touch me like Catalyst does. I think it’s the broad spectrum of theological voices that challenges me to think outside my current personal understanding of who God is – the worship always touches my heart deeply and the Words from the Lord coming from leaders like TD Jakes, Craig Groeschel and Andy Stanley – to name just a few, annually hit me right in the gut. This gives me something to come home and wrestle with until God blesses me with the realization of what He was saying to me in those two amazing days in Atlanta.
The theme this year was “The Tension is Good.” How timely this was because this year was the very first where I’ve been able to take the whole Victory staff. Forgive me if these terms seem over the top, or too much in the superlative sense, but I’m truly overwhelmed at the goodness of God in answering my prayers for over 20 years to put together the kind of DreamTeam that we have at Victory.
For years, I came home and I’m sure appeared like a crazy man, “a man possessed” because I would struggle to communicate what I had seen and heard and experienced. My faith level was visibly charged. Yearly, I would be frustrated with trying to share that with people on our team who didn’t/couldn’t go.
Again, this year, there was a moment. I stood and wept, overwhelmed at the greatness of God’s love – except this time – not alone. As I was standing with my eyes closed and tears streaming down my cheeks, lost in the worship of our awesome God, I felt arms reach around me in embrace. That impacted me even more deeply – Jeremy Soto, Simona and Alex Blankenship, Haley Vest, Greg Lackey and my daughter Abbey were experiencing this same thing with me.
This year, I came home with the power of a shared experience. Our team grew together and bonded in the spirit. Because of the God we serve and what is taking place inside each of us individually and collectively as a team, I expect to see God move heaven and earth and shake the delta to fulfill the vision He has placed in our hearts. Everyday, I wake up with a new expectation and gratitude in my heart for God allowing me to lead such a fantastic church with people whom I love with my whole heart!
Anticipating . . .